If you’re applying for a place at law school, you will need to sit the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) as part of the application process.
It is a paper-based, standardized test that assesses your reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning.
The test can be taken at any registered LSAT center (mostly colleges and universities), and lasts for 4-5 hours. It currently costs $190, although expect to pay additional fees if you register late, cancel your test, or reschedule it for another date.
Since 1968, the Law School Admission Council offers an LSAT Fee Waiver Program to those who can not afford to pay the full fee, to ensure no one is unable to attend law school due to mandatory application fees.
What’s in the LSAT?
The LSAT is made up of five multiple choice sections, each lasting around 35 minutes. These are:
- Logical reasoning - these two sections are designed to assess your ability to pull apart and analyze arguments. You will be given a brief argument or set of facts, and asked to identify the assumption, provide an alternative conclusion, identify any errors in the argument, and/or choose a statement that would either strengthen or weaken the argument.
- Reading comprehension - you will be asked to read through four passages of around 500 words (usually related to law, arts, humanities or the sciences), and answer a number of questions about them.
- Analytical reasoning - often referred to as the “logic games” section, you will be given a premise, along with a set of conditions governing the relationships among the subjects. The games assess your ability to look at a range of possibilities within a set of rules. It is largely considered the most difficult section of the LSAT, as the rules in each game do not create a single “correct” set of relationships among all factors of the game. This means it usually requires the most preparation before sitting the test.
- The LSAT also contains an unscored experimental section, which LSAC uses to test out new questions in later exams. You will not be told which part of your test is the experimental section, but don’t worry about this, as it does not count toward your final score.
- These are all followed by an unscored writing sample section, which you will have to tackle last in your LSAT. Here, a decision prompt will give you a problem and two criteria for making a decision. Your essay will then describe why you prefer one of these options over the other. The prompt usually involves a regular topic that candidates are unlikely to feel strongly about one way or the other, as this section is designed to test your ability to argue for a certain position, and how you argue against the opposition. This means there is no “right” or “wrong” answer as such.
When can I take the LSAT?
The Law School Admission Council offers the LSAT several times throughout the year.
We recommend you register for your LSAT as early as possible, to avoid missing out on a seat at your first-choice test center.
A candidate can not take the LSAT more than three times within a two year period (unless you have been given an exemption from LSAC).
If you decide to cancel your score within six days of having taken the LSAT, it will still be reported to law schools that you registered for and sat the test.
How is the test scored?
The score you receive for your LSAT will be based on the number of questions you answer correctly. You will not be marked down for any questions answered incorrectly.
Your raw mark is then converted to the LSAT scale, which ranges from 120 to 180.
Read more about LSAT scoring at LSAC’s Your LSAT Score area.
It probably comes as no surprise that LSAT scores usually correspond with preparation time. Follow our top tips to help give you the best chance of success.
1. Start early
Since the LSAT is such a critical factor in law school admissions, we recommend you start preparing for the LSAT at least six months before you plan to take the test.
Many students will put in at least 200 hours of preparation for their LSAT, so the sooner you can start, the better.
It is generally recommended that you spend 4-6 hours a week preparing, for at least 3-4 months before your test.
2. Invest in textbooks
The first is to buy one or two self-help guides that will give you tips and advice on how to best approach the LSAT test.
These often involve creating a study plan over several months, learning how to approach each section of the test, and how to excel in all sections to obtain the best possible score.
3. Look into prep companies
Some students choose to use an LSAT test preparation company, although these can be expensive and the quality of the tuition received can vary greatly.
If this is an option you think you might be interested in, do your research thoroughly first before signing up and handing over any money.
4. Take some practice tests
Since the structure of the LSAT and the type of questions asked each year tend to be consistent, taking practice tests is a great way to study for the exam, as you can familiarize yourself with the type of material that will be presented to you.
Try to get copies of previous LSATs (available online from Amazon and other sellers). There are a variety of old tests, some just with answers, and others with answers and explanations. Using a timer to simulate test conditions, work through a complete test. Do as many timed practice tests as you can, as this will help simulate what it will be like on the actual test day. It will also help you calculate how long you can realistically afford to spend on each question, and identify weaker areas where you need to do extra revision.
5. Identify areas for improvement
Try not to feel bad if you don’t perform well in any practice tests you take - use them as a way to identify gaps in your knowledge so you can put together a strategy for revising this material and do better next time.
For each practice test you take, try to see where you went wrong any why. You can then review this area in more detail until you are more comfortable with it, and can do better next time.
Don’t rely on the areas you are stronger in to see you through the test - to achieve your full potential in the LSAT, you need to excel in all areas of the test.
6. Be confident with the test format
Make sure you review the test format, instructions, and question types. This means the test should look very familiar to you when you take it.
Your self-help books and the LSAT website should help with this.
Best of luck with your LSAT and law school application!
For more tips and advice on applying to law school, please see: